Grilled cheese sandwich is toast of Bush country
Crawford, Texas -- Terry Kevin Westerfield is running nervously around the workshop he built alongside his house. There are things he needs to show me.
''Look at this,'' he says, wheeling a 150 bomb from World War II over to me on a hand truck.
His breath visible in the cold night air, he leaves the bomb beside me and fetches a propane heater. His workshop is massive, made from scrap wood of various buildings that had been torn down around town. At its highest point the ceiling must be 40 feet above our heads. A dead boar lies in a corner; antlers and animal skulls line the walls.
Across the way, an elk is waiting to be skinned.
Westerfield is Crawford's resident taxidermist.
''It's an art form,'' he says. ``Anyone who does it and says it ain't, well then they ain't doing it right.''
He gets $275 to mount a deer's head on a piece of wood, $225 to stuff a raccoon, $375 for a bobcat and $400 for a coyote. ''But that's because they stink worse than anything there is in this world,'' he says. ``It has something to do with what they eat, I guess."
Westerfield found me in the town diner.
''I was over at the gas station, and someone came in and said you had the grilled cheese sandwich with the Virgin Mary on it, so I told Bruce we had to go see it,'' he explains.
His buddy Bruce Crunk waves.
When they first showed up at the diner, I was showing the sandwich to some kids from town. In the kitchen, J.J., the cook, is busy trying, without much success, to make a grilled cheese sandwich with the president's face on it.
I was worried the Virgin Mary Grilled Cheese Sandwich wouldn't get much of a reception here. After all, when you are in the president's hometown, lots of freakish and weird things pass through.
''I don't know,'' 17-year-old Troy Luedeker said. ``This is pretty good. I can't think of anything else quite like it.''
When I stepped outside the diner, Westerfield was waiting for me. ''You have to come back to my shop,'' he pleaded. ``I have something to show you.''
It wasn't the bomb or the elk or the boar. Those were just extras. He grabs a camcorder and a fistful of tapes.
''This is from when we were building the shop,'' he says, fumbling to load a tape. ``We were putting the roof on and it was night, and we had one light hanging from right there. It was misting rain and I went across the street to my wife's grandma's house and when I turned around, this is what I see.''
He pushes the play button on the recorder.
The silhouette of a cross appears in the back-lit building. More amazingly, the lines from the cross extend magically into the distance.
''I never seen anything like it,'' he says.
Does he think it has a religious meaning?
He hems and haws. ``I don't know.''
Sitting nearby, his wife, Sandra, shakes her head.
''Yes, he does,'' she says with a long Texas drawl. ``He just doesn't want to admit it to you.''
We get to talking about the president and moral values. Until I got here, I didn't realize President Bush had only bought the ranch just before running for president back in 2000.
I had always thought he had lived on it for years. Turns out only to be prop, an image his handlers wanted to project.
''I'm still not sure what that means, moral values,'' Westerfield says. ``I don't think the election had anything to do with moral values. Doesn't the Bible say killing is wrong, and right now aren't we killing people in Iraq?
''Moral values,'' he continues, ``it's just something they say, and people believe it because they want to.''
Like a rancher president or a phantom cross stretching into the darkness.
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